Tsai-fa Cheng

Credentials: Chinese Linguistics

PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Originally from Hsinchu, Taiwan, Professor Tsai-Fa Cheng graduated National Taiwan University with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature in 1958, and a Master’s Degree in Chinese Language and Literature in 1962. Cheng completed his Ph.D. in Linguistics from University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1976.

In 1965 Cheng was personally invited to join the University of Wisconsin-Madison in launching its Chinese Department (i.e. inaugural pilot program which transformed into The Department of East Asian Languages and Literature). Initially Cheng led 2 courses:
1. Chinese Phonological History
2. Japanese For Research

Subsequent to the Japanese Program being fully established, in the 1970s Cheng expanded the curriculum to teach: 1st & 2nd Year Classical Chinese; Classical Chinese for Non-Majors. Enriching the Department further, from 1980s onward Cheng created 3 additional tracks for Chinese Program studies:
1. Chinese Thought
2. Chinese Linguistics
3. Chinese Classical Literature

During the 1990s Cheng taught all of the above while offering rotational courses in:
1. Introduction to Confucianism
2. Introduction to Taoism
3. Introduction to ‘The Book of I Ching’
4. Chinese Calligraphy

In 1995 Cheng organized the International Conference of Chinese Linguistics in Madison, Wisconsin. The event included hundreds of global participants, and elevated the overall reputation of the Department on the whole. Cheng frequently held visiting posts at major research institutions and universities in China and Taiwan. In April of 1992 the University of Wisconsin-Madison awarded Cheng with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, followed by Professor Emeritus status in 2006.